Monday, 23 March 2009

Rip it up and start again.

It's not often that my faith in the British press soars quite as much as it did yesterday, when I offered up silent thanks to the nameless journalist who did the digging on Tony McNulty MP's claming of £60,000 as 'expenses' on a second home in Harrow, where his parents currently live. Yes, that Tony McNulty, Purnell's lapdog. The same Tony McNulty who believes that crushing poverty is an important incentive to persuade benefits claimants into jobs that aren't there. The same Tony McNulty who believes that the Welfare Reform Bill - voted in last Wednesday, albeit with some important amendments - is an appropriate strategy to bully the workless back into below-minimum-wage jobs. He claimed as much as £14,000 per year on the home, on top of his considerable MP's salary and additional expense claims.

It has been pointed out numerous times, not least by McNulty himself, that the money he claimed - equivalent to the entire salary of many of his constituents - wasn't against the rules. I'm sure it wasn't. I don't however, give one solitary iced damn if the Queen gave him the cash in a gold-plated envelope scented with the royal perfume, it's still entirely and indefensibly wrong.

Because, well. How dare he, really. How dare he dictate to the poor and needy how they should live their lives, how dare he imply that people are 'playing the system' when he himself has been playing the system for at least five times the annual rate of jobseekers' allowance every year. How dare he tell Britain's poorest and most disadvantaged young people that they do not deserve the paltry £48 of jobseekers' allowance they receive every week, when he himself has been claiming at least £270 per week in additional expenses on top of his salary. The sheer pig-headed hypocrisy of it all makes my ovaries itch.

It has further been reported that Mr McNulty claims to have made "considerable" use of the property, but said that he had stopped claiming the allowance in January - get this- 'because the fall in interest rates meant he could afford to pay the mortgage from his MP's salary'. As Mr Eugenides puts it, 'you have to marvel at the sheer ingenuity of people who only stop stealing from us when they've driven the economy far enough into the ground that it becomes temporarily cost-effective to act honestly.'

I mean, what is it with these guys? Have they completely lost all sense of narrative subtlety? Do they actually wander the corridors of Whitehall stroking overfed white cats, cackling to themselves and rubbing their hands with glee when brownbeaten assistants scurry up to tell them that the local orphanage has been demolished just as they ordered? What has happened to this government, when the Conservatives - the Conservatives! - have to suggest to McNulty that 'questions need to be answered'?

If you hadn't guessed, I'm incandescently angry about this.

They have no idea how the other half live, these people; they have no compassion, they have no compunction, and they lie. I refuse to believe that Labour MPs are stupid as well as hypocritical, mainly because I've met some. They know. They know full well just what £270 per week would mean to some of Britain's poorest families, in terms of staving off daily hunger and protecting parents from loan sharks. They know. They just don't care. They're content to claim it for themselves instead, all the while refusing to instigate policy changes that might help the 1.3 million unemployed young people in this country being thrown on the scrap-heap for good, all the while refusing to help Britain's 2million workless citizens and many more benefit claimants raise themselves above the poverty line.

The potential to create jobs in this economy is staggering - and yet the government is sitting on its hands. No FDR-esque New Deal for us, the country with one of the most meagre provisions of social security in the developed world - just more expensive and fruitless chivvying of the jobless into jobs that aren't there, with a workless to vacancy rate of 30:1 in many parts of the country. For some of the millions of school and college leavers out there, it is already too late. For many of Britain's long-term unemployed, grinding poverty and hopelessness have already done their damage. For the rest, time is rapidly wasting. As Saint Polly puts it:


The social cost of leaving a generation to rot will be far greater than the small financial cost of creating jobs and training now. Crime, welfare dependency, children's problems, mental and physical illness and all the social ills that shame Britain from previous eras of gross social neglect are huge debts weighing on the nation's future as surely as IMF sums. A job creation programme can be afforded, in the same way that war, anti-terror measures or an outbreak of avian flu have to be afforded. The social destruction wrought by long-term unemployment is a national emergency.

They could afford to bail out the banks at fifty times the cost of these damaging new welfare reforms; they can afford to save us from desitutition if they choose, but instead, the cabinet ministers we elected to serve us sit on their bottoms paying themselves vast salaries under the table, in a state of near-perfect inertia.

Bugger this. I want a better world.

Days like this make me want to forget any notion of Trotskyan Transitionalism and take it all in my tiny hands and smash it to brittle bits. Instead, I'm going to be taking my frustration out on the streets of London this Saturday, at the Put People First march and rally in Hyde Park. Hope to see some of you there. I'll be the short one.

19 comments:

  1. Saturday. There's a thought. I need to do a few things in London, and I haven't had my sensible jacket on in a while.
    And, well... most of my friends under 30 are unemployed, I don't earn so much that I can always offer a useful tenner when cash gets short, and I'm just sick of this. My friends deserve so much more than this rubbish.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Your outrage is justified, Ms. Red, but are any of us surprised anymore by any financial misdemeanors on the part of MPs? When exposed such men and women always make the same defense and give the same excuse: "I broke no rules and remained within the letter of the law." Yes, but you worked overtime to invent schemes to bend, twist and exploit loopholes in the law until the law itself is perilously close to fracture. You may not be forced to resign but your victory is Pyrrhic: we see you as the petty money-grabbing crook you are.

    When I think of the greatness and sincerity of bygone Labour MPs, before the party started spinning around the wobbly and inconstant Blair-Brown axis, and compare past luminaries with today's mischief of illegitimate by-blows - e.g., the Milliband Bros, Purnell, Burnham, Balls, Cooper, Flint et al - I feel like putting my head in my hands and weeping salty tears.

    Under New Labour debate is dead. Democracy is dead. Decency is dead. We are now ruled by an oligarchy of deceitful sycophants and spivs who would doubtless repeal the ban on capital punishment if they thought there were a few votes in it for them, which might cinch a win for them during the course of the next general election.

    Tame and supine Members of Parliament no longer challenge unjust and unsound legislation but simply cave in and do as they're told "rubber stamping" bills as and when they appear seemingly oblivious to and uncaring about pernicious effects the legislation may wreak in the lives of millions of innocent citizens. It seems to me that most MPs no longer care much about the wellbeing and interests of their constituents; they seem principally concerned with matters concerning their own future and survival, e.g., salaries, perks, pensions, reelection and securing their own prospects within the party. The poor, sick, disabled, underprivileged and disenfranchised... well... who gives a shit about such losers? They probably don't even vote in elections anyway. Let's put a bit of stick about and make them jump to attention: the threat of absolute destitution can be potent when used wisely. A similar policy worked successfully for the Romans for 1,200 years after all.

    It really is too sad to witness the malignant metastasis of political promiscuity in the husk of what remains of the Labour Party. The Party seems so lost; directionless. The unfettered market has wrecked the world and yet Purnell and McNulty plan to legislate to use market principles to "cure" sickness, disability and unemployment, amongst every section of society, throughout the United Kingdom. Should we really be so shocked when self-centred arch-opportunists and carpetbaggers like this are found wanting as far as moral rectitude goes?

    The British people deserve better!!!

    Well, that's a lot of words and I still feel as mad as a snake with two tails!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Sometimes this expenses stuff is complicated. This isn't complicated because the current situation is just wrong in principle. London MPs (and probably many Home Counties MPs) don't need expenses for second homes. Is there any other job in either the private or public sector where it would even be considered plausible enough to be suggested?

    You can travel between McNulty's real home and his consitituency in under an hour using public transport. He should claim an Oyster card and be grateful.

    I don't think this tell us much about whether or not we should save the banks - poor people who get screwed by New Labour's welfare policies aren't suddenly going to be better off if we let whole financial system collapse, they'll have a lot less stuff to barter with.

    But it does as you suggest reinforce the 'one rule for us, another rule for the proles' approach that pervades New Labour's thinking on welfare.

    Apparently, scrounging's fine as long you don't need the money: 'No to cash for food and heating, yes to an unearned top up for a salary more than three times the national average'

    That's a great election slogan.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Triostskyan?

    I prefer pre-war Stalinism myself ... Or maybe the Informbiro period of Yugoslavia, afraid that the Russian's promise to export shiny new tractors from the Soviet Union's Chelyabinsk Traktorny Zavod will be withdrawn.

    It's a good thing that you posted that last bit. Here we have a wider economic crisis where market capitalism has no major and threatening 'socialist' rivals worldwide. Scary times lie ahead, whether you adhere to Marxism-Leninism-Whateverism or some other lesser known or libertarian current of socialist/communist thinking.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I think McNulty deserves every penny that he gets: I believe that he and his wife have to struggle to get by on a joint income of only £300,000+ per annum. This is exceptionally low considering McNulty's utility to the Brown regime as a hammer to the unemployed and scourge to the shiftless. So he fiddles the odd £60,000 on the side. So what? It's pin money. The man well deserves his thirty pieces of silver as far as I can see.

    Yet even someone as humane and enlightened as McNulty can make mistakes from time to time. For example, what I would have liked to have seen included in the welfare bill is true time limiting as far as social security benefits goes. In the USA you only get a right to five years worth of social security throughout your lifetime; once you use up your five year allocation you get struck off the register and are entitled to nothing! Bobkiss! It doesn't matter how you got into that state or whether it was your fault, once you get to the lobby of the building no excuses whatsoever are acceptable. You don't get a penny from the system anymore while you are still alive. This kind of tough love would make armies of social security claiming scum get off their laurels and get minimum wage jobs! And if they can't, won't or don't for whatever reason, well, let the parasitic filth rot in hell and go extinct I say.

    People like McNulty and Purnell are heroes not villains. Shame on all you moaning minnies that fail to see the wood for the trees. I expect critics of McNulty and other rising stars in the New Labour firmament are probably leeches on the dole or on the sick. Next year or the year after your number will be up you bloodsuckers, you mark my words.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I happen to agree with you Penny. Our MPs are sick. They've turned politics into a career.

    The first thing any good government should do is take the money out of it. Reduce the wage to £30,000 - £35,000. And force MPs who live outside of London to live in state owned property.

    If you do that you'll start getting the right people into politics.

    People who care about politics rather than the career. And people who have made something of themselves before they go into it -- so they have some bloody real-life experience.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Our MPs are sick. They've turned politics into a career.

    Nonsense. The British people did. Or at least, we allowed them to do it. You get the politicians you deserve. Getting angry at politicians - and still worse, any individual politician - is senseless. If the British people are happy about having careerist politicians, take it up with the people.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Part of the problem with expenses comes from the assumption that MPs should behave better than most people would do.

    Most people claim expenses to the level they can legally get away with, whatever job they have. I wouldn't be surprised if McNulty has done just that.

    Personally I would pay MPs the median wage and increase allowances in most areas, but make them more transparent.

    With second home allowance, it'd be best if the state bought lots of flats within walking distance of Westminster and allocated them to MPs whose constituencies were not within a certain travel time from the HoC on public transport (say, 1 hour) on a lottery basis, instead of having an allowance. It'd be more expensive in the short-term, but it'd save cash and be completely fair in the long-term.

    ReplyDelete
  9. It couldn't have happened to a nicer person. I've been sick of seeing Tony McNulty's smug fat face all over television, lecturing about the poor and unemployed when it's obvious he's completely out of touch with the reality of day to day life for the majority of this country.

    If only this would doom his career but considering how little it's affected Jacqui Smith, I don't have much faith in that happening.

    ReplyDelete
  10. What's with all this shite seeking to demonise McNulty. I admit that the smug supercilious bastard has got the kind of nonce's face that most people would enjoy punching, but he's only guilty of sticking his nose in a long, wide and very deep trough alongside many unappealing others.

    As far as "expenses" go top of the league of outer-London MPs who have claimed additional cost allowances is Harry Cohen, a leftie Labour MP for Leyton and Wanstead, who has claimed £104,701 since 2002.

    In second place comes Tory MP Andrew Rosindell, the MP for Romford, who has claimed £104,699, followed by the already disgraced Derek Conway, Tory MP for Old Bexley & Sidcup, on £104,651. Conway had the whip withdrawn after fiddling £200,000 worth of staffing expenses on behalf of his family and he will step down at the next election.

    Mike Gapes, the Labour chairman of the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee and MP for Ilford South, has claimed £104,650 while the widely respected Labour left-wing deputy leadership candidate and campaigner against the BNP, Jon Cruddas, MP for Dagenham, has been paid £103,117 in allowances for having to find accommodation near the Commons.

    Also in the list are the husband and wife team who have been dubbed Mr and Mrs Expenses - Alan Keen, Labour MP for Feltham & Heston, and health minister Ann Keen, a former nurse who is Labour MP for Brentford & Isleworth, each of whom has claimed £87,325.

    There are others on the list, with claims of between £30,000 and £90,000. All are - presumably - acting within the rules which allow MPs to claim for the additional cost of having to go to the Commons as well as run a constituency.

    So give McNulty a break. Rank has it's privileges and whatever else he is McNulty is certainly rank. Don't you believe in private enterprise? What are you? A socialist or something?

    ReplyDelete
  11. NeuroS -- Point taken

    However I still believe the money has to be taken out of the game.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Well, I agree that politics shouldn't be an enriching profession. No-one should ever do it for the money. But I honestly don't think anyone does go into politics for the money - it's much easier, and more profitable, to go into business or finance.

    I also think that an obsession with the personal bank accounts of MPs (or indeed bankers) is a silly distraction from the real issues. So bankers have been making a lot of money in "bonuses" and so Sir Fred has a big pension? That's unfair, I guess, and if someone were to steal some of it and hand it out to the poor I'd be the first to applaud. But as a political issue it's, well, a non-issue, when compared to things like the war(s), climate change, etc.

    ReplyDelete
  13. You sound jeasous penny red, a bit miffed you aren't getting the chance to dip your beak?

    ReplyDelete
  14. The Demigod Father26 March 2009 at 14:12

    Hey! Anonimo! La bambina cattiva vuole appena bagnare il suo becco. What' torto di s con quella?

    "Hey! Anonymous! The wicked little girl just wants to wet her beak. What's wrong with that?"

    ReplyDelete
  15. No anonymous, she doesn't sound "jeasous", she sounds ANGRY.

    And rightly so, you stupid, semi-literate troll.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Bend over and take it like the little catamite you are Danny Boy... I know the way you like it... and your pipes, your pipes are calling!

    ReplyDelete
  17. No personal, sexual or pointless abuse on this blog. That was all three.

    Get out of my internet corner, you scumbag.

    ReplyDelete
  18. The policy of a "Workers' MP on a Worker's Wage" is one proposed -- and, by councillors in local government, practised -- by the Socialist Party.

    Some of you may be familiar with the Socialist Party as Militant Tendency, the fighting, progressive strand within Labour that left in protest to the party's insidious drift to the right.

    Disillusioned supporters of major parties should take note: New Labour is not looking after your interests. Liberal Democrat and Tory governments will not either. Join the Campaign for a New Worker's Party to reintroduce the voice of the Left into Parliament.

    ReplyDelete
  19. He started it by dissin my speling. I was onyl stickin up for myself. AMyway Im gone.

    ReplyDelete

Comments are open on this blog, but I reserve the right to delete any abusive or off-topic threads.